We got home soooo late last night and we weren't feeling 100% so you had to do without your blog fix. Sorry. Reinforcements!! One of our very favorite peeps from the Big Apple, Winston, decided to spend his Labor Day by laboring for US. On the spur of the moment he was lured here by the promise of never-ending glamor and high-life constantly featured in the blog. It's been a pretty hysterical couple of days, because from our point of view having a house-guest is the world's best excuse to RELAX and not pound and hammer and get gooey... Winston is determined to be as helpful as possible so keeps looking at the two of us saying "what can we do now?". It's turned into a very happy medium - and we've actually made progress on a whole pile of stuff. So we're going to chain him to the concession stand and call his law firm and tell them he's joined the priesthood. Winston and I possibly are the two people their High School classes would have voted "Least Likely to Ever Hold a Power Tool" - so it's been a hoot having him here. Although before we leapt into cashing in on his sweat equity, we felt he needed to assimilate. So - we took him for - BREADED FRIED PORK! After that Winston had his long-awaited emotional reunion with his beloved niece, Po. She likes him way more than she likes us. Frankly, we think he only flew here to see her.
We then did the full five cent tour - showing him everything as it is, as it was, and as it someday, God willing, will be. He's really the first person we've had here who has experienced everything through the blog before seeing it in person... so it was really neat. I'm trying to coerce him into being a guest-blogger to give you his perspective. Hopefully he'll succumb. He couldn't believe how big the theatre actually was (someone at dell must not have told him that the pictures on the computer screen aren't life-size). We also took him to see the new house... or as we affectionately call it 'the shit box' - and, indeed, he couldn't believe how much of a shit box it really was :).
His visit to the house also provided us with a chance to have a photograph taken that I've been DYING to post, but we didn't really have anyone we could ASK to take the picture for us. When we first toured the house, you can imagine my surprise when we I turned the corner and saw this gigantic mural in one of the bedrooms...
I mean, one should have pride in one's house... but not THAT kind of Pride!
So - then it was time to let him really experience exactly what we do around here. So we took him to Lowe's and spent our life's savings. Well - almost. Because it's Labor Day they are having a big sale (especially on paint) and 0% financing. So during the visit to the Shit Box, Winston and I took lots and lots of measurments, and Rich made copious notes about how much paint we needed for each room... where we needed dry wall, where we needed linoleum, new vanities, light fixtures, replacement doors, carpet... you name it - we noted it. Of all the things in the house that causes us the most head scratching it would be the (dum dum dummm) SECRET SPACE. When Rich took his Dad to see the place, Bob noticed that there was LIGHT shining through one of the cabinets in the bathroom. Now, if you think about it, light does not usually shine from behind cabinets - because normally there isn't anything BEHIND them. They pulled out the drawers and discovered like a four foot space BEHIND the cabinet, with a WINDOW??. Possibly the most bizarre construction job EVER. I mean, it's not QUITE the scary mystery room in the attic where they used to hide the half-wit Victorian girl no one ever spoke about... but it's definitely close.
We spent like an hour making all our notes, talking about paint colors and then hitched up Mr. Sparkle and headed out on the open road toward Lowe's.
FIVE HOURS LATER...
No seriously. We spent five hours in Lowe's. Winston couldn't believe it. My theory is that they light them like casinos - so you don't realize it's getting dark. We spent a bundle. The three of us picked out wall colors for the kitchen, bathroom, hallways, living and bedroom for the new house. We bought all the tile for the shower, walls and floor in our bathroom. We bought two new doors for the house - one interior, one exterior. We bought a vanity and sink and medicine cabinet for the house. We bought lighting fixtures for the house. We basically bought the store. The pick-up was filled to the brim. By the time we got out of there it was almost nine o clock. But we saved a couple hundred dollars because of the sale... and, especially for the stuff for the house, it's great to be able to spread those payments out for while. Because when it's rented it will start paying itself off - and paying off Lowe's.
Dan the hairdresser and his boyfriend were having some people over for the evening - and he was nice enough to invite us - but that was supposed to start at eight - and we had to get back from Fort Wayne, unload, and grab a bite to eat. He said it was fine that we were running late - so - after a quick detour to Bob Evans (who have the best biscuits in the universe) we arrived there. By this time we were all exhausted from the Lowe's excursion, unloading, and Rich and I still are battling our individual feeling-crapiness-es, but we had said we would come - and every time he's asked us over we've had some reason we couldn't go. So we HAD to make an appearance because otherwise it would just seem like we were making excuses - which we totally weren't. Of course, showing up to an invitation three hours late doesn't exactly quantify enthusiasm... but we couldn't help it. A Lowe's sale cannot be ignored, people.
I do have to say, though, it was soooo nice to just sit and relax in someone's back yard and be social. We haven't the chance to be with people other than ourselves... and they all couldn't be happier that we're here and opening the theatre. And they are determined to teach us Euchre. They actually were determined to teach us Euchre at one am... but we negotiated a rain check. Winston was exhausted from his flight... and Rich and I, under the weather, were fading fast. So we city slickers headed home.
Winston came prepared for the apartment... or rather the bathroom. He was well versed in the particular blessings of our shower, and took one look at it and said "Well, that's why I brought my flip flops".
So, after doing his John Kerry impersonation in the shower, Winston was MORE than enthusiastic about helping us make progress on the new bathroom construction. I worked on foyer paint treatments downstairs (so we could get Winston's vote while he was here) while he and Rich demolished, and sawed, and hammered and screwed. I know... and with me just downstairs... the nerve.
The two of them got a huge amount done... and tomorrow we should be able to install the bath tub. Here's some pictures of the new bathroom floor with all the joists laid in and the sub-floor going down.
While the boys were building up a storm I was feverishly trying to finish up the paint schematics for the foyer (unlike Rich...who currently is just feverish). We had to buy a ton of paint to cover the whole area - and it was five dollars off each gallon this weekend - so I needed to finish the drawings, and once Rich and I were happy with the layout, then pick the actual Lowe's paint colors to correspond with what I'd done on the computer. Having Winston here for this stuff was a Godsend... it's amazing how much EASIER decisions like this become when you have... a) a visiting gay with excellent taste, and b) an extra person to make a quorum. When Rich and I disagree (and we do often have different taste in things) it can be really challenging not only to decide which way to tip the scale, but also whether or not we were even right in the decision we were arguing for. Even if I have an opinion on something different than Rich - if we eventually decide to choose what I like - I STILL have doubts about the decision because I didn't have anyone else saying they loved it too. Winston made all this so much easier. Just having someone say "well, I like THAT one" makes all the difference in the world. If it's NOT what you would have picked - you feel confident that two other people did like it; and if it WAS you feel really great - because you feel a strong sense of well-being that you've made the right decision. Of course when Rich and I BOTH agree on things it's not hard... but when you have a billion decisions to make... we're just going to have to hire a tie-breaker-gay to work here part time. Seriously - with all these color decisions - on walls, and trims, and base colors, and faux treatments... it's was a lot of final decisions to put to bed this weekend - and Winston really helped make us feel good about the choices that we've made.
So here's the sketches. This is called a paint elevation - it's basically a front view of each wall going around the room laid flat like you cut a line down each corner and pushed them over like dominos. It's a little convoluted, especially if you've never seen the actual space, but it'll give you an idea of the color schemes. The floor is still being finalized - but the pattern is now much larger and those colors have been adjusted. The big checkerboard things are the ceiling surrounds in both the inner and outer lobby. The black lobby doors will also have some art deco trim detailing on them that I haven't done the sketches for yet (cuz they didn't affect paint color choice).
There is a little mural that will be in the outer foyer on one side - and I've just cut and pasted in the reference photograph of it so that we could get a sense of it's geography. The photograph is of a curved wall, though, so on this elevation it's distorted. For our mural the buildings will be purely vertical and in the same brown and copper tones as the rest of the decor.
Winston is also a big fan of art-deco stuff - so his approval of the design, colors and paint treatments was heartening. It's a weird thing - because sometimes you make decisions not because it's what YOU would do... but what you SHOULD do to be true the period sensibility. For instance, black is a paint color you don't see much in decor nowadays...but it was really popular during the deco period. So - even though it feels like a strong choice for us to make - it's a good one - because it so specifically reflects a period palette. Because people don't see black used much - when they see it in our foyer it will have more impact as a period choice because it's unusual. Whatever. Too late - we bought it already. This Lowe's color is actually called "Lincoln Cabin Black" - which completely perplexes me as a name. If anyone can tell me what was black about Lincoln's Cabin - and what particularly makes one black LINCOLN'S CABIN black, versus plain old... Mold in Our Shower Black, or Water Rich had to Suck Off the Roof Black... well I'll pay pal them a dollar.
Rich also has managed to make up a to do list for this week. It gave me agita. It ain't short, kids:
Actually - she managed to pee on the carpet today. When she does it, she knows she's in trouble and she crawls under the bed like she's tunneling through the Underground Railroad.
In addition to finishing up the elevation I also painted two test walls in the foyer. We had narrowed the faux treatment down to one of two options - the two metallic colors on top of either a burgundy base OR a patchwork base alternating burgundy and brown. I did about a four by six chunk of them on two walls and we took a vote. It was unanimous - the burgundy and brown gives a lot more variation in tone to the gold and copper on top. The burgundy alone has a lot less depth and life. So - so much for getting out the paint sprayer and knocking out that base coat in ten minutes :( BUT it was reallllly good we did the test - because we were able to see the difference of the treatment on smooth walls versus the current textured surface. Around the doors the walls are perfectly smooth (as were the original foam board paint tests I had done)... but on the main walls they are very bumpy. Well, on the smooth part of the wall the paint looks AWESOME. On the textured walls - Yick. The metallics just make the walls look dirty, and it doesn't have one tenth of the richness and pop that the smooth walls do. So - we all agreed - gotta strip the foyer. Shit. But - better to learn the lesson before we've thrown away sixty bucks putting primer on bumpy walls. Then the color committee met and discussed paint swatches upstairs - using the wallpaper, the paint swatches and the computer renderings as a guide (the first cream was too khaki, the first browns were too similar) and we reached a consensus on the all the foyer picks... Then - we headed BACK to shopping. If you had asked me a year ago if I would NOT be in a Banana Republic for two solid months and WOULD be in a Lowe's three days a week... I would have said you were sniffing Elmers.
We bought the foyer sconces at Home Depeot.. Cuz we need seven of them... and Labor Day Sales are our friend. We already have the pendants and chandelier fixtures for the foyer from when Rich and Janice hit the jackpot at that Home Depot liquidation in New Hampshire... but they didn't have the matching sconces there. We also got a lighting fixture for the Byron Street house kitchen, and one for our kitchen too. We weren't able to find any linoleum we like - so we're gonna hit the carpet warehouses to look for remnants. Ditto for carpet. Then we headed to Lowe's.
We bought 21 GALLONS OF PAINT. Twenty One. I had done all the square footage calculations and the guy at Lowes got out his calculator and helped us figure out how many gallons we needed for each color. It took them half an hour to mix it all. We also found a book on drywall that I have a funny feeling might come in handy when we tackle the new house... and a book on tiling that had like a sixteen page frame-by-frame explanation of how to tile the shower exactly how Rich wants to do it in the house as well. So we grabbed those.
Then we had to check out. Now Rich is not feeling good. This was NOT the day for him to get cashier with attitude. We're ring everything up - and she kind of looks at us like "oh my god.. you're going to make me ring up all THAT? Why do you people have to BUY THINGS??" and we're HELPING her by holding up all the cans of paint and turning them so she can find the bar code with her laser gun thing. And then she begrudgingly rings up the Lowe's coupon we have for ten percent off (coupons have saved our life)... So far... we're ok. She's kind of got attitude - but we haven't gone awry. YET. Rich then lets her know that we need to put the purchase on his Lowe's card (for the 0% financing) but he does not have the card with him - she'll need to look it up. (It's actually Janice's account - but Rich is listed as on it). Well she looks at Rich like he has plague and says "I can't do that from HERE". She said this not only as if we were ruining her entire existence on the planet, but also as if WE should have known better. This is where things start to go bad. We did know better. Rich says, "Well, I'm fairly sure you can because they did that for me yesterday". And she says "No they didn't. You can't do that". And Rich says... "Well, they did yesterday... and they did it from THIS register". She tells us - rudely - that it'll have to be done at the service desk. And she yells over to the service desk. She tells us to go over there and deal with it. Rich asks her if we'll have to have everything rung up again (which with 21 gallons of paint is not a minor task). She has already ushered another customer down the line, and Rich stops her and asks. And the evil teller sighs and yells at the service desk asking how to send it over since we WOULDN'T just go over... then a woman across from her at the next register says "I can look it up for you" and she looks up the card. Just like they did yesterday. The evil cashier says "Well I'm not TRAINED to do that". They look up the card, and I remember from yesterday (cuz I happened to be watching the screen) exactly where Rich's name is listed on the account - It says Janice up at the top - but if you look four inches below it lists other signatories - and it says "Richard Najuch". So I point it out to the nice, sane, normal, homo-sapien teller - and she sends the account number over to the evil teller. The evil teller gets defensive and says "Well I couldn't look it up - SHE'S A FLOOR MANAGER... and I'm not trained to DO THAT". Rich says he didn't argue that she wasn't trained to do that... simply that she said it couldn't be done at all... and that she was rude to us when he calmly explained that it HAD been done yesterday for us from that exact locatoin. She rolls her eyes. She then starts to put the purchase on the account that the supervisor authorized for her... Then the evil teller says - with disdain and bile - "Well THIS ISN'T EVEN YOUR CARD. YOU CAN'T USE THIS". She's now reached uber-Bitch status. Of course - I know exactly where on the screen it says he IS on the card and I'm waiting for Rich to grab this woman by the neck and shove her face up against the screen where it's listed. His jaw is starting to tighten. You know those old newsreels when you see children at school in the fifties putting on gas masks and crawling under their desks in preparation for the ATomic bomb. Well - that is pretty much what you should do when Rich's jaw starts to tighten. So they get through the transaction and then Winston and I roll off to the truck with a pallette of eight hundred pails of paint. And we wait. And wait... Rich does not come out. Something has gone wrong. Code Red Code Red. APPARENTLY after we left, Rich, sick, tired, and having just blown $2,000 at this establishment in the past TWO DAYS says to the teller "You know, I'm sorry... but I just want you to understand that you weren't being very polite to us. And we weren't wrong about what we were asking... and I'm not asking for special treatment or anything - but I've spent a lot of money here in the past two months and..." And she says "Just STOP!" Yes... ladies and gentlemen she says "Just STOP!" I believe she also held her hand up to his face. And then she said "I don't have to talk to you about this".
After talking to the manager and pointing out that we had spent $10,000 at Lowes in the last 2 months... and that there is a Home Depot right across the parking lot... Evil teller probably isn't going to be there tomorrow.
Rich has worked an awful lot of crappy jobs in an awful lot of rotten customer service positions. He's never tried to get someone fired, precisely BECAUSE he knows jobs like that can suck. But this woman made him lose his shit. I don't think I've ever seen him so mad. I'm glad it wasn't a KMart - because they sell guns.
We finished the evening by finally reaching the Valhalla that is the Never Ending Pasta Bowl at Olive Garden. We all consumed sixteen meatballs too many and waddled back to the truck feeling kinda queezy :) And now... home to bed. We have tie-breaker Winston till six tomorrow... bathtub prepare for landing.
XO jo jo.